While most species of Earth use the sexual act for procreation, humankind may be the only one for which sex is a pleasure, sport, and obsession. Along with money, hunger, and desire for power, sex is a primary motivating force. It is a basic instinctual urge that all humans experience at some time, and the sexual/sensual component of a relationship is often necessary to keep it strong and healthy.
Many changes have occurred in our sexual focus in the last quarter century. It is no longer oriented just to erections, marathon sex, and multiple partners, though that might be the interest for some. We now have more responsibilities for our own and each other?s health. Safe sex?not transmitting diseases or creating unprepared-for pregnancies?is definitely both sensible and in vogue. Condoms are back, birth control is important, and knowing your partner is crucial to health. There have always been some built-in dangers with sexual activity, from syphilis to gonorrhea to herpes and now AIDS. As the dangers grow, often so do the mystique and adventure of sexuality.
Nowadays, people are more monogamous, attempting to focus on loving and supporting one another, looking more for growth and learning and less for control and dependency. Relationship vitality is important and often secondary to sexual vitality; love that binds us must reach many levels, emotional and spiritual as well as physical. Few relationships last over the long term that are based on good sex alone, just as few endure without a decent sexual relationship. Ultimately, love is the overriding principle, and with love, physical sharing and enjoyment are manifest.
Stress and nutrition are important factors in sexual vitality. Stress, particularly mental stress in the form of worry, overwork, and financial concerns, can interfere with sexual energy and expression. On the other hand, sexual problems themselves can be a source of anxiety and unhappiness. Resolving relationship problems often requires some psychological assistance. Guilt can be a big psychological block to adequate sexual energy. In many situations, there has not been a clear emotional separation from a parent or a previous loved one, and subconscious feelings of incest or adultery may be undermining the experience. Fears of certain fantasies becoming reality may also create anxiety interference. There are all kinds of potential sexual problems. In this section, however, we concentrate more on supporting a healthy sexual function rather than the wide range of sexual dysfunctions and infertility.
For normal function, we need both healthy organs and a balanced, working endocrine system, producing the necessary hormones. Low pituitary function may lead to decreased development of the sexual organs, early menopause in women, and impotence in men. Weak adrenals may reduce the desire and strength for sex and increase sensitivity to stress. Low thyroid may cause a lack of desire or capacity for sex. In men, low testicular function decreases sex drive and sperm production. In women, low estrogen slows sexual maturity, decreases breast size, and retards egg maturation. Estrogen-progesterone imbalance can create many menstrual cycle variations and symptoms.
For a fulfilling sexual relationship, women particularly need to feel love and to have energy without fatigue, a hormonal balance that allows peaceful emotions, and some level of relaxation with a good sex drive. Men need good circulation to create a penile erection, physical vitality, and good hormone function. Lust often encourages more passionate sex. This is most common early in a relationship, when fantasy and sensuality arouse the sexual desires of both sexes. But for a longer run and repeat performances, some other qualities must be present in the relationship.
A big obstacle to a longer-range satisfying sexual relationship is boredom or complacency. Becoming used to each other, along with the little day-to-day irritations or conflicts, can easily interfere with the sexual energy of either or both partners, and soon, sex may be a rare occurrence, decreasing in frequency from daily or weekly to monthly or even less often. Bringing a feeling of freshness, fantasy, romance, and new energy into the relationship and bedroom will often revive the sex life. Creativity in a relationship is important.
There is no reason why sexual activity has to decrease in later years, though for most people, it usually does become less frequent. The changes that come with age still allow sexual function; realistically, however, it is not the same as it is in a young person. Women have lower hormone levels later in life unless they go on hormone replacement, but they can still maintain sexual vitality and drive, with or without hormones. Men usually have less decrease or a less distinct cutoff in hormone levels, which are more necessary for their sexual function. As long as there is good circulation and cardiovascular health, both sexes can maintain a good sex life. Obesity, poor diet, mental and emotional stress, and cardiovascular disease are some common conditions that can interfere with sexual vitality.
The Chinese have a concept about the frequency of ejaculation and orgasm for men and women that is described in the fascinating book The Tao of Sex and Loving by Jolan Chang. According to this theory, men are meant to have frequent erections, lots of sex, and only rare orgasms. Regular ejaculations drain the kidney/adrenal chi (energy) and possibly lead to fatigue, decreased vitality, or lower back weakness in men. When the adrenals are weakened, there is also lower ability to handle stress. Men can learn to have more complete orgasms without ejaculation with special techniques described in the book. Women are meant to have as many orgasms as they wish, which are energizing to them. And if the man is not releasing all the time, he will have more sexual vitality to satisfy his partner. Sound intriguing?
Many other factors seem to affect sexual desire and performance. Alcohol, nicotine, coffee, marijuana, and sugar are some of the pleasure drugs that may reduce sexual vitality, as can many pharmaceuticals, such as tranquilizers, antihypertensives, particularly beta-blockers, and birth control pills or hormones. Other factors that may influence sexuality include genetics, childhood upbringing, personal attitudes, and basic hormone levels. For example, men with higher testosterone levels and better adrenal function usually will have more sex drive.
As mentioned earlier, stress levels also can interfere directly with sexual function and drive. Often, underlying worries about money, job, and so on take our minds off sex. A recent study revealed that men who received raises or promotions at work increased their sexual frequency; the reverse happened to those who were demoted or whose pay was decreased. (For more understanding of stress aspects, see the Anti-Stress program. Further discussion of sexuality is found in the programs for Adult Men, Adult Women, and The Elderly.)
Nutrition can also have a lot to do with sexual vitality, which clearly decreases with malnourishment. The focus of the diet is on antiaging and a healthy cardiovascular system. A wholesome diet low in fat and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates is a good place to begin. Any diet (and lifestyle) that maintains good circulation and normal weight and contains high-vitality fresh foods will lead to better sexual function. A good protein intake is important, but excessive protein may interfere with sexuality. Likewise, adequate dietary fats and fatty acids are required for normal hormonal function. Cholesterol is a precursor of several sexual hormones, and if it is too low, this may lead to impaired sexual function and vitality.
Regular exercise is also very important to reduce stress and anxiety and support a healthy heart. However, excessive exercise, especially in women, can reduce fertility, hormone levels, menstrual periods, and sex drive, so balance is important here as well.
Many of the foods traditionally believed to improve sexual function are from the ocean. Fish are thought to be good for brain and sexual function, especially the shellfish, such as oysters and clams. This may be because of their high levels of zinc. High-zinc foods have been thought to support male prostate function; pumpkin seeds, an old prostate helper, are high in zinc. Also from the ocean come the very-high-mineral seaweeds, which seem to support sexual function. Celery, especially celery root, is thought to be a mild aphrodisiac. Milk products such as cheeses and ice cream may have a sedative effect on sexual energy.
There are many specific supplements that influence sexual vitality, particularly vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin C, niacin, and the amino acid arginine also seem to support sexual function. Many glandular formulas are available, and some men and women may experience improvement with them. The idea that if we eat the organs or organ extracts from other animals to offer some essential help to our own corresponding organs is not a new concept and does make some sense, but there is no good research to substantiate the effectiveness of doing this.
As for many other programs related to age and stress, a general multivitamin and antioxidant formula is a good idea. Extra vitamin E may be helpful for sexual vitality and fertility, but this is still hard to prove in humans. The essential fatty acids are important to tissue strength and membrane integrity and fluidity. Niacin, the flushing form of vitamin B3, acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the skin and many other parts of the body. Some people also experience sexual stimulation from this niacin flush. Zinc seems to be especially related to male fertility and sex drive. Low zinc levels may lead to impotence, a low sperm count, and a loss of sexual interest. However, taking more than 100 mg. daily is not recommended as this can reduce immune function and absorption of other minerals, such as copper and manganese. Prostate health and testosterone hormone production may also be influenced by zinc. Vitamin C is associated with sperm motility, and male infertility has been related in part to vitamin C deficiency. Besides vitamin C, the bioflavonoids, along with vitamins A and E, and the mineral zinc, are important to healthy mucous membrane tissue and function. L-arginine, an amino acid, is also somehow tied to sperm production. In a study cited by Dr. Sheldon Hendler in The Complete Guide to Anti-Aging Nutrients, 4 grams per day of arginine increased low sperm counts in 80 percent of the men tested. Many of them were then able to naturally father children. Selenium may mildly stimulate sexual energy; manganese may also be related to sex drive; and molybdenum may have an as-yet-undetermined influence on sexual function. Pantothenic acid provides pituitary and adrenal support and, thus, indirectly improves testosterone production in men. Folic acid is a B vitamin helpful for both ovarian function and sperm production, and it, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium, may reduce the production of abnormal cells. Iodine supports the thyroid gland function, which improves both the desire and capacity for sexual activity.
|B vitamins||B vitamins||Vitamis A||Iodine|
|Choline||Pantothenic acid||B vitamins||B vitamins|
|Magnesium||Vitamin E||Niacin||Vitamin E|
|L-amino acids||Vitamin C|
|Essential fatty acids|
|Testes and Sperms*||Ovaries|
|Vitamin E||B vitamins|
|Vitamin A||Folic acid|
|Vitamin C||Vitamin E|
*Sperm contains calcium, zinc, sulfur, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and inositol, so these are likely important also. ATP (energy) is an absolute requirements for sperm motility, so nuclear acids, specially inosine.
A number of herbs seem to influence sexual function and enhance sexual vitality, in addition to the many botanicals that have been used for treating various sexual maladies. Ginseng root is the classic example of a sexual strengthening herb. It is used more for men than for women, though when the lack of sexual energy is a result of fatigue, ginseng may help in both sexes. The aphrodisiac and sexual power capacities of ginseng, however, are only anecdotal and not supported by research; its main benefit may be its effects in supporting general vitality. Dong quai and Fo-ti tieng are two other herbal roots used in traditional Chinese medicine. Dong quai is a female herb that acts as a blood purifier, antispasmodic for cramps, and as a hormonal tonic. Fo-ti tieng, or Polygonium multiflore, is used more in males as a kidney tonic and diuretic, and to enhance fertility. It is also used for blood sugar programs. Both herbs can be taken in capsules or boiled to make tea. Damiana leaf has an historical reputation as an aphrodisiac and a stimulant of sexual activity. Good-quality (fresh, dried) damiana has helped many people stimulate their sexual appetites. Saw palmetto herb is best known for its treatment of male prostate problems. It and damiana have been used together to enhance sexual health. Both are also employed for respiratory difficulties. Licorice root seems to possess some estrogenic properties and has been used in many female tonifying formulas. It may be useful for reproductive health and for treating infertility. Sarsaparilla root contains “building block” chemicals that stimulate the synthesis of steroid sex hormones.
The following table lists the supplement suggestions for maintaining or strengthening sexual energy. Following this, along with a good diet, a low anxiety level, a little romance, and a springtime picnic with the one you love, will keep all your body parts alive from the top down and from your toes up. Keep loving yourself and others to feel young and lively.
|Vitamin A||10,000 IUs||Copper||women?2 mg.
|Beta-carotene||20,000 IUs||Iodine||225 mcg.|
|Vitamin D||400 IUs||Iron||women?18 mg.
|Vitamin E||800 IUs||Magnesium||350 mg.|
|Vitamin K||300 mcg.||Manganese||10 mg.|
|Thiamine (B1)||50 mg.||Molybdenum||500 mcg.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||50 mg.||Selenium||200 mcg.|
|Niacin (B3)||50 mg.||Silicon||100 mg.|
|Niacinamide (B3)||50 mg.||Zinc||women?30 mg.
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||500 mg.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||50 mg.||Flaxseed oil||1?2 t.|
|Pyridoxal-5-phosphate||50 mg.||L-amino acids||1,000 mg.|
|Cobalamin (B12)||100 mcg.||Inosine||150?300 mg.|
|Folic acid||800 mcg.||Herbs
see previous discussion
in this program